7 “Unsexy” Foods You Should Be Eating

Good food doesn’t have to be trendy

7 “Unsexy” Foods You Should Be Eating

Somehow, kale has become sexy. Credit the amazing power of food trends.

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Kale is not alone, either. Quinoa, coconut oil, chia seeds, kefir — food trends abound. In most cases, that’s a good thing. Kale and other foods that are “hot” right now are chock full of nutrients you need.

But when you’re browsing the grocery store or farmer’s market for the latest trends, don’t forget about classic staples with health benefits of their own. The following seven foods may not have the marketing-backed appeal of the latest “buzz” cuisine, but they should still be on your shopping list.

1. Spinach

Kale has taken center stage in the leafy green category, but don’t forget about spinach. Spinach contains twice as much protein as kale and a little more fiber. And like other leafy greens, it delivers high levels of crucial nutrients such as vitamins A, C and K, plus calcium, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids to help fight inflammation. If you find Popeye’s power food too bland on its own, add it to salads, soups, sandwiches, 100 percent whole grain pasta and smoothies.

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2. Oatmeal

No, I’m not talking about the ready-made flavor packets that are full of added sugars. Even if you skip these conveniences, plain oatmeal is one of the easiest breakfast foods to make — and one of the most filling throughout the day. The soluble fiber in oatmeal has long been known for its potential to lower harmful cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar. Add flavor with berries, unsweetened peanut butter and your own favorite extras.

3. Chicken breast

It’s not the most exciting or flavorful option in the meat world, but a chicken breast is a “complete” source of high-quality protein that contains the essential amino acids your body needs. If you skip the fried variety, a single 3-oz serving of skinless, boneless chicken breast contains 31 grams of protein and is naturally low in sodium, plus iron and niacin that help with cell growth and metabolism.

4. Beans and other legumes

There’s a reason beans, lentils and other legumes fill plates around the world. They’re versatile, they’re cheap, and they’re about as good an alternative to animal protein as you can get. Daily servings can help manage your weight. Like many foods on this list, they mix fiber and protein to keep you feeling fuller longer. Although more research is needed, legumes also may play a part in reducing cholesterol.

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5. Apples

Exotic fruits and berries get all the attention, but apples are still nutrition powerhouses. An apple (peel included!) contains roughly 4 grams of fiber, so as a snack, it’ll fill you up and aid in digestion. On top of that, certain compounds in apples may help promote the growth of good bacteria in your gut associated with reductions in obesity and inflammation. And the antioxidants in these self-contained treats may ultimately help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.

6. Yogurt

OK, if you pick flavors like “cookies and cream,” yogurt might be a little sexy. But to make the most of yogurt’s benefits, you should simplify. Plain yogurt — skip the extra sugar in all those fancy flavors — can start your day right. On top of a healthy dose of calcium, vitamin D and magnesium, yogurt offers probiotics that aid in digestive health. And yogurt — particularly Greek yogurt — packs a protein punch. It can be an important part of an overall weight loss plan including exercise and other lifestyle changes.

7. Water

From energy drinks to “diet” sodas, your beverage choices are abundant. But you’ve had access to the perfect refresher all along: water. Drinking water helps you stay hydrated and fight fatigue. Drinking water before and with meals may help reduce your feelings of hunger and energy intake at meals, which can actually help you lose or manage weight. Perhaps most important, though, water does these things without adding a single calorie or unwanted ingredient to your diet.

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Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD

Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD, is a registered dietitian and wellness manager for the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute.
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